Acanto | Loop | Italian | Restaurant
The Italian reconcept of Henri has retained chef Christopher Gawronski, who turns out big, busy plates in a chummy, inviting atmosphere off Michigan Avenue.

Our Review

Chef Christopher Gawronski has amassed a collection of busy, indulgent dishes that certainly refer to Italy, but mainly address open-minded American appetites. Big, chewy baked clams almost get lost in a matrix of bread crumbs, salumi cotto, and pickled shallots. A radicchio and white bean salad is a textural exercise loaded with fennel, arugula, raisins, pine nuts, and thick, crunchy bits of pancetta. A crispy, gooey-on-the-inside puck of polenta topped with a slab of cotechino and a quail egg would make an appropriate hangover brunch. A prettily composed cuttlefish and octopus duo is easier to handle, but its abundance of garnishes—figs, radish slices, and fiery circles of Fresno chile—make up a dish that wouldn't be out of place on a more fussy menu. Pastas are similarly busy, but hard to dislike. Tensile strands of thick duck-egg spaghetti twirl among spicy ground pork, pearl onion, and bitter rapini in creamy sauce. The only pasta that doesn't seem dressed to watch the Hunger Games is a hearty bowl of spicy rigatoni with lamb ragu, bread crumbs, and melted caciocavallo cheese. If you're proceeding from pasta, second courses like bronzed suckling pig presented three ways might present a challenge to your endurance. Pastry chef Mitsu Nozaki's crostata al forna—a molded disk of shortbreadlike pastry filled with rich house-made ricotta—is in the running for my favorite dessert of the year. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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